Monday, February 23, 2009

Nationalizing Banks Will Harm The US Dollar

The buzz in the financial industry right now is whether or not the government is preparing to nationalize Citigroup and Bank of America, the two largest US banks. The government denied that they are even considering this measure, however, we wouldn't expect them to say anything else. The amount of liabilities that these banks have is staggering, and as Kathy Lien explains in her blog post below, a nationalization of these banks will have a dramatic impact on the US dollar.

I want to share my piece on How Nationalization of Citigroup and Bank of America could impact the US dollar if you haven’t caught it already (so I’m am posting his before I head to the NY Traders Expo).

The rally in gold prices tells us one thing and one thing only, which is that the fear has returned to the market. There is currently a lot of speculation that Citigroup and Bank of America could be nationalized by the US government. Although this would drive equities lower, it could also trigger capital flight out of the US dollar.

When Northern Rock was nationalized by the UK government in February of 2008, the British pound fell from 1.9638 to a low of 1.9363 over the course of 3 trading days. Although the dollar initially rallied on the news that the US government was taking over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in September 2008, it quickly gave back those gains to end the week lower against the Japanese Yen.

Nationalization will ultimately be negative for the US dollar because it increases the debt and liabilities of the US Federal Reserve and hence taxpayers. Nationalization is by no means a foregone conclusion especially since it is not a part of the US Treasury’s Financial Stability Plan. Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd floated the idea of short term nationalization around but it will probably be the last option for the US government if the Financial Stability Plan fails to work quickly. In fact, the rebound in US equities was triggered by speculation that the Treasury could release more details regarding their plan to rescue the financial system next week. Also keep an eye on Bernanke’s Humphrey Hawkins Testimony on the US economy and Monetary Policy.

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